You know me – I’ve been all about active noise cancellation when it comes to my listening habits. That most frequently takes the form of blocking out noise around me as I work. That’s not the only use case, though – it can also be helpful for listening to music and podcasts as you exercise (so long as you’re not near traffic). That’s where the iLive Truly Wireless Noise Canceling Earbuds found themselves slotting in.
With any sort of headphones these days – particularly wireless ones – I’ve become used to there being some sort of accompanying app that lets you adjust settings in the earbuds, and even update the firmware, things of that nature. With the iLive Truly Wireless Noise Canceling Earbuds, there’s none of that. In some ways, it’s back to the simpler days of bluetooth earbuds – pull them out of the charging case, pair them to your phone, and away you go.
Of course, that’s not truly the case, as we’ve come a long way since those early earbuds. The headline article here is the active noise cancellation, which I found to be pretty effective at both cutting down noise at the park, as well as blocking out the sound of my mechanical keyboard. You can turn ANC off, or even flip to a transparency mode.
This is done via touch-sensitive sections of the earbuds, as you might expect. And yes, you’ve got a whole new UI that you need to learn, as shown here:
- Tap and hold for 5 seconds to power ON/OFF
- Tap to play/pause music
- Tap to answer/end phone calls
- Tap and hold for 2 seconds to reject incoming calls
- Tap and hold for 2 seconds to activate Voice Assistant (LEFT)
- Press and hold for 3 seconds to switch modes between: Normal, Transparent, and ANC (RIGHT)
- Quickly tap twice to skip to next track (RIGHT )
- Quickly tap twice to play previous tracks (LEFT)
- Quickly tap three times to turn volume up (RIGHT)
- Quickly tap three times to turn volume down (LEFT)
It’s relatively intuitive, and if these are your only earbuds, you’ll learn it quickly (if you switch between pairs, though, that’s a totally different learning curve). All that is left is to get the correct size of silicone tips fitted, and to get some tunes or a podcast going, right?
When I started out, I was actually pleasantly surprised by just how good of a sound that the iLive Truly Wireless Noise Canceling Earbuds could produce from such small drivers. While the bass didn’t boom, it was definitely there (note, if you have the earbuds pressed in too firmly, it gets a bit muddy), and the treble was balanced against the bass to let vocals come through, and the mid-range just got the job done without much fuss. Again, the TL;DR here is that these tiny earbuds produced some of the best sound I’ve had from wireless earbuds.
That is, until you find out how susceptible they are to 2.4Ghz interference. At least, that’s what I suspect was going on, particularly as they call it out in the user manual. How this manifests itself is not in weird noise coming through, but the earbuds (usually just one at a time) totally dropping sound, and then kicking back in. In the house, ok, that might happen from wifi or cordless phones, but I actually had the least amount of that happening when I was sitting pretty close to the router, actually.
Where it hit me the most was when I was out jogging in a park, which really didn’t make sense. Sure, residential rings the park, but their routers shouldn’t be broadcasting out to the middle of the park. At first I was thinking maybe a loose connection, but I could not consistently reproduce the sound dropping in and out. Sometimes it’d be just fine for 10 minutes, and then I’d have it flickering in and out for a good few minutes. Suffice to say, that definitely takes you out of whatever you were concentrating on, and you become acutely aware of the earbuds.
So, while I found the iLive Truly Wireless Noise Canceling Earbuds to be comfortable and producing really solid sound, the connectivity issues would really have me hesitating to recommend these, especially when they’re $69.99, and do not automatically turn off when placed into the charging case. Then again, I could have just gotten a bad one off of the assembly line, and if you want to give them a go, there is a 90-day warranty on them. For me, though? These will not be in my regular usage for my morning jogs. ilive.com
Tech Specs from iLive
- Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)
- TWS – True Wireless Stereo
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Sweatproof design
- Works with Siri and Google assistants
- Built-in microphone
- USB-C port for recharge
- Charging case
- Wireless range 49 ft.
- Charging time: 120 minutes
- Battery life: 5 hours at 50% volume with ANC off
- Charging case
- USB-C cable
- 90-day Limited Warranty
- User’s guide